Thursday, December 31, 2009

Song184_Fast As You Can

Today's song is unique (for me) in a few ways. One, most songs that I write don't have vocals that start on the first beat of the song. Two, the layout of this song is not traditional. The 'chorus' section (which is typically a high-point) is the slower part of the progression. Some of these things are purposeful, and some are welcomed accidents. (Example: I had trouble fitting lyrics to the 'chorus' section, so I pulled the drums out hoping to make the 'verses' more intense.) This song doesn't have any guitar strumming, which was purposeful. This week I'm trying to focus less on guitar strumming and more on the song's rhythm, bass, and vocals. The lyrics were pieced together quicker than I'd like...during a 20-30 minute break, but I'm happy with the outcome. Brandon came over early today, so he was able to help with ideas. The original thought stems from an odd philosophy that I adapted during my early days of training for running races..."run as fast as you can to the half-way point, then try to run a little faster on the way back."

LYRICS: "Gunfire ended the daydream. Runners started running from nothing. Fast as you can to the finish line. Fast as you can, don't get left behind. Action ended the atrophy. Muscles now twitching and cramping. Fast as you can through the night. Fast as you can 'till you reach the prize. Lost sense of sensibility. All bets on relativity. Fast as you can, though you're winning. Fast as you can to the ending."

Today is New Year's Eve, which means that tomorrow begins a full month of FREE MUSIC to everyone on the Mailing List. Sign up at


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Song183_Luck's Ballistics

This song begins a new album, Week27_Last Minute Driver. The FREE month of music begins in a few days, but I will be including today's song and tomorrow's song too (since they are part of the newest album). The guitar progression used in this song was written years ago, but I never found anything practical to do with it. (Opening= D-G-Bm-A, then A#-D-F#-G-A#, then A-C#-D). I've used sections of this song before, but this is the closest I've come to using the entire idea. I wanted this week to have a 'techno feel,' and although I used some 'techno' elements it still comes across much differently than previous attempts (such as: Week15_Reverent Awe). I recorded the strumming electric guitar first, then the other electric guitar (picking various melodies), and then I added bass guitar. The rhythm section is a few separate loops combined with cymbals and tambourine. Additionally, there are about 5-6 tracks of synth sounds.

LYRICS: "Take a breath. Make it slow. Simmer down, then wait for more. Sullen. Caught unprepared. Fast like a missile from surface to air. Shaken. Lost in a stare. Luck's odd ballistics put a part in your hair."

Today, being the first day of the second half of this project, feels like New Year's Day. It's only December 30th, so a few days from now the New Year will probably seem 'old hat.' My internal clock was more accurate before the surgery. I guess my prosthetic head has a mind of its own.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Song182_Reservoir (6 MONTHS COMPLETE!)

Today's instrumental completes another album and another week of recording. As of today, I have successfully completed 6 months of consecutive recording! I'm counting the first half of this project as warm-up, and I'm hoping (and planning) for an even more productive second half. I recently narrowed down some of the best album titles, weekly concepts, etc, and I've made a broad map of what I'd like to accomplish from here. Also, I'm hoping to push the limits during January (since all music will be FREE to everyone on the Mailing List). I had a few weeks that felt like this project would never end. Now I'm realizing that it will end someday (sadly), so I'd better stay focused, make the most of each song, and finish the year strong.

Brandon Steach came over to help with today's song. We went for a run, discussed ideas, then started this session with an electric guitar picking a simple progression. Brandon recorded this track, I added bass guitar, and then I added the other electric (picking) guitars. We wanted to keep this song simple, so we added a few additional synth sounds, and that was all it needed.

I was able to add a new MP3 player to the website last night, and it really helps.

The newest album will be posted within a few hours at


Monday, December 28, 2009

Song181_Open Ended

Today's instrumental was written on the electric guitar. There are three main sections that I blended together...keeping a few of them rhythm-free. The layout and structure of this song is fairly simple, and I used: one drum track, cymbals, tambourine, a violin, bass guitar, and 3 additional electric guitars.

I've found a new Flash player that I plan on integrating into the website later tonight. This will allow me to update the "FREE music section" more often, and it will make previewing music much easier for you.

After I type this sentence I will begin working on designs for this week's album cover (Week26_Outlaw Brothers). I have 1-2 (vague) ideas, so we'll see what happens.


Sunday, December 27, 2009


Brandon came over around 1400 today, and he brought a hard drive with a few ideas. The song we chose already had 4-5 keyboards, 2 drum loops and a bass guitar, but we altered the structure, re-recorded a new bass track, and continued from there. Brandon recorded all of the guitars in today's song.

I'm coming up on 6 months of recording. This is the final week of 2009, so I've been re-evaluating certain aspects of this project, and I've been making preparations for the next 6 months. I have about 6-10 hours worth of web updates that I plan on making before the new year. I'm also creating lists to hone in on the best: album titles, genres to focus on, lyrical themes, etc. All of the music in January will be free, so I'm going to focus and work hard to be ahead of the game each day.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Song179_These Times

I got hung up on ideas about 2 hours into a recording session, deleted everything, and started over. I chose not to worry about lyrics or vocals on the second try, and somehow this odd little ska instrumental came out. This song has: drums, tambourine, cymbals, 3 guitars, a violin, and a flute.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009


I barely got this song's 23:35 on Christmas eve. This one turned out differently than anticipated, but I saw it coming and chose not to turn back. I wrote this song by layering and sequencing various percussion sounds, and these beats inspired the rhythm guitar that appears in the second half of the song. The rhythms are upbeat and electronic, so the bass guitar was fun to create. With a solid foundation in place it was all about editing and layering. I added a tambourine, an organ, a vocal choir, a violin, 3 electric guitars, and a few other instruments. Once again, today's lyrics were sent to me by Jason Houp. I ran short on time today, so his full page of lyrics got condensed into a few lines.

LYRICS: "Well the rains came down and the wind blew in. I'm wishin' that I wasn't here again."

PS: I had an idea last night that I might pursue: record one song...7 days in a 7 completely different ways. I'll use the same chords and lyrics, but I'll vary the tempo, instruments, and genre. That could be interesting.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Song176_Outlaw Brothers

Today's recording begins a new album (Week26_Outlaw Brothers), and I've decided to try something new. Last week I asked my friend, Jason Houp, if he'd let me use some of his (un-used) lyrics. He emailed about 15 sets of lyrics to me a few days ago, and I'll be using these song premises as my starting-point each day. He's given me free reign to adjust the lyrics as needed, and he also said I could put these words to any music I'd like to write. This is a very generous offer, and it gives me a unique new approach to songwriting for this week.

I structured the lyrics for today's song late last night. I ended up shaving off a lot of words, and I added a few verses of my own, but I wasn't exactly sure what chords and melody would fit at the time. I liked the theme of these lyrics, and his original idea created a domino effect on today's creativity. I wrote, recorded, mixed, mastered, and published this tune in just under 4 hours.

LYRICS: "I've got no money in my wallet. I've got no change in my pockets. Now that I'm clean I see the world is downright mean. I got no friends on the streets. I got no family to meet. I'm clean and free with nowhere to be. We're outlaw brothers through thick and thin. Sure to make it out, but we're not sure when. They kept coming at us from all around, and now my outlaw brother lies dead on the ground. I got no job for support. No woman to court. Now that I'm finally clean I see the world is downright mean. There's no sense in us stickin' around this circle of friends from the lost-and-found. Now that I'm clean I see the world is downright mean. We're outlaw brothers through thick and thin. Sure to make it out, but not sure when. They kept coming at us from all around, and now my outlaw brother lies dead on the ground."


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Song175_The One

I wrote today's song on the piano, which isn't typical. I chose a simple progression, recorded it to the 'click' (134bpm), and then I added bass guitar. I chose a simple/upbeat rhythm (67bpm), and the rest fell into place quickly: cymbals, bells, an electric guitar, a string section, a flute, and a violin.

Today's instrumental completes another album and another week of recording. I'm glad today's song went smoothly because I still have 2-3 hrs of tasks to wrap up this week (complete the album artwork, add a new "Albums" page to the website, upload files to Payloadz, create new links, upload free MP3's, create and send email to Mailing List, backup hard drives, etc). The newest album should be available online by 8pm.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Song174_Hope Arrives

Thiago Silva joined me in the studio today. He came over about 9:30, and we agreed to start the song by recording him picking a few chord progressions on the classical guitar. Thiago's a gifted guitarist, so after we decided on a style and tempo he didn't need much direction from me. In fact, I spent most of the day playing 'Producer' (which I also enjoy). After only 3-4 takes we felt like we had enough of the initial part, so I did some quick editing, structured the song (created markers, documented the chord structure, etc), and then I recorded the bass guitar. I kept the bass simple since there are plenty of notes already being played on the guitar. Next, Thiago added another classical guitar track...this one filled with sporadic solos that compliment the original track nicely. I added a string section, recorded some cymbal swells, and then Thiago added the final electric guitar that plays a melody (in the center section) using an E-bow.

I think this instrumental fits nicely with the other songs in this week's collection. We were able to complete this song before Thiago had to leave for the airport (to pick up holiday guests), which means that this entire song was written, recorded, mixed, and mastered in about 4 hours. Thanks, Thiago!

PS: I added a few new photos to the Gallery page:


Sunday, December 20, 2009


Today's instrumental was written on the electric guitar (intro: E-B, then A-E-B, and bridge: A-C-B). Next, I added (in this order): drums, bass guitar, additional electric guitars (x3), cymbals, bells, tambourine, a choir, a flute, and an echoing synth sound. This recording session was spread out over the entire day, but it probably totaled 4 hours.

Thiago Silva, a guitarist that has recorded with me before (Song019_Keeper of My Heart), will be joining me again tomorrow. We're meeting at 9am, and we haven't discussed any specific plans for the song yet, but I know that he's bringing his classical guitar.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Song172_Following A Star

I finally got started on today's song around 7pm, but I had a plan...sort of. The plan was to record an electric guitar picking a few simple chord progressions, record the bass guitar, then record two additional guitars picking separate melodies that accompany those chords, and then delete the original guitar. (Chords: G-Bm-C-D, then Em-C-D) This formula was a quick and effective way to achieve the sound that I wanted. I added 4 additional tracks: a string section, a choir section, a violin, and a flute. This entire song came together in just over an hour.

I was always intrigued by the Bible story of the 3 wise men traveling to see Jesus. Their directions were vague, and they were given just enough information to test their desire. Or, maybe their directions (i.e. "follow the star") were given in case one of them became a traitor and tried to sell the information to Herod. (Even with the title "Wise Man" no one would've believed those directions were real, right?) But, once those men gathered their gifts and set out walking in the right direction I doubt they ever got discouraged or lost. If I had a time machine, then I'm not sure I could choose only one event to go back and witness, but this one would be high on the list.


Friday, December 18, 2009


Brandon came over around noon, and we talked about ideas for today's song. He worked out the main structure on acoustic guitar, I added the bass, and then we had a nice surprise. Jason Houp stopped by to loan me his mandolin...great timing. I learned a few chords years ago, but it's been a long time since I've gotten to play a mandolin. As a fan of bluegrass music, I have always enjoyed the sound of this instrument. We added additional electric guitars, percussion (tambourine, bells, cymbals), a flute, a violin...then Brandon went home (around 4pm). We had talked about a few topical ideas for today's lyrics, but I had trouble coming up with something that I liked as much as the music. The lyrics ended up being really sappy, and the melodies were average, so I quickly convinced myself that this song was destined to be an instrumental.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Song170_Christmas is Near

This melody came to me while the computer was warming-up, I worked out the chords on the acoustic guitar (E-A-E-B...then F#m-G#m-A-B), and I had the majority of the song recorded within a few hours. This is simple, cheery Christmas tune with a repetitious melody. Includes: bass guitar, acoustic guitar, 2 electric guitars (picking single notes), a string section (during the interludes only), a choir section, cymbals, tambourine, sleigh bells, and 3 vocal harmonies.

I'm in the process of making updates to the website ( The Home page now has a daily counter, I'm adding new songs to the FREE page, and I hope to add a few new videos soon.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Today begins a new week of recording. This next album, Week25_Round Yon Virgin, will be a collection of (OTTO-style) Christmas songs. These songs will have some standard 'Christmas elements" (such as the sleigh bells that begin the album), but I will incorporate many non-traditional sounds and themes as well. (Example: one of the songs this week will be about the failed assassination attempts on Jesus right before and after his birth....which would've been a much more exciting and action-packed movie than Valkyrie, which was about the failed assassination attempts on Hitler).

Today's song, Song169_BC, was written earlier today on the electric guitar. I recorded this distorted guitar first ('click' set at 82bpm), and then I structured the drums and bass. The picking guitars were fun to play because the song was already developed. There were a few sections that I recorded more times than needed...mostly because it felt like playing along with a full band. I edited a few versions of this song, and the structure changed many times. I added the (drum-less) intro right before the final mix, and I have to admit that I didn't even think of using the sleigh bells until I made this edit. I had a rhythm and style in mind today, but this song (like most of the others) became a song track-by-track.

This instrumental represents the period of time that Earth experienced before Christ visited. I believe that things got better for us as people after Christ's life on earth, but there are some very intriguing aspects about life during the time before he arrived. I wanted this song to have an energy of anticipation and newness (created by the instruments I chose, the rhythm, the edits, etc), but I also wanted it to have an element of uneasiness and a sense of disconnection (which I tried to create using abrupt pauses and unpredictable chord progressions...A-D-E, then F#-G, then B-C).


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Song168_Simple Days of Jousting

Today's instrumental completes another week of recording! This song had percussion (drums, tambourines, cymbals, etc) until right before the final mix...glad I 'muted' those tracks because this song didn't need them. I wrote this song on electric guitar...recorded the first track of picking to 80bpm (C-Em-F-G), and then I built around that part: bass guitar, then strings, then additional electric guitars, a flute, and then a few extra synth/choir sounds.

This week's album design is a pencil drawing that I did yesterday. I had the idea in my mind before I started drawing, but it still took about 3 hours. I don't use erasers, but I did clean it up slightly after scanning it. I gave the cropped and edited JPEG to Carly and she added some great final effects (color, etc).

Available soon: Week24_Simple Days of Jousting (


Monday, December 14, 2009

Song167_This Is The Time

I started today's song with a drum rhythm and a simple (synth) bass part. The lyrics for this song came to me last night, so I recorded a 'scratch' version of the melody before adding the remaining instruments. I had an idea of what instruments I'd use, but having the vocals in place helped with these decisions. I figured this single statement stood on its need to elaborate on this thought, and then I purposefully chose simple melodies on the guitar and keys (so the vocals wouldn't get lost in the music). The final version of this song has about 12-14 tracks.

LYRICS: "This is the time to live in the moment. You'll never get this time back again. Never again."

I got an early start on writting today's song, so it's nice to be done before lunch. I have an idea for this week's album artwork, so I'll work on that drawing for 1-2 hours, then I have other work to do (the kind that pays). Another busy, rewarding day.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Song166_Medieval Gangsters

Today's song is your typical Reggae-style song about Medieval hoodlums. This song evolved (from scratch) in a unique way, so the final product was somewhat of a surprise to me. I recorded the drum rhythms and the bass before taking a lunch break (Joe's Pizza in Euless), then I added a few guitars and keyboards before taking another long break. The guitars (both electric, one distorted and one clean) completely changed the overall style and sound of the song. The clean guitar plays the down-beats during the 'verse' sections, and then it switches to a syncopated, reggae-style rhythm during the 'chorus' sections. There are two additional electric guitars that pick single notes during the 'verse.' They fit in a dissonant and eerie way...I like how it seems to start on the wrong note, but it resolves as it goes on. The 'Bridge' section is unique in that it continues the 'chorus' only 1/2 step higher.

During the second long break in recording I played guitar for a gospel quartet. Brandon's mom has been singing in groups her entire life, and tonight they performed at her church's Christmas event. It was a casual, no-pressure situation where Brandon and I both played guitar while the 4-piece vocal section did their thing (and they do it well). For the final song that we played ("Walking In a Winter Wonderland") they passed out bells to all the kids, and the played along in perfect rhythm...sort of. It was fun.

I had written down some lyrics after lunch, but I didn't finalize the vocals until I got back from the performance. There are a few quality lines...the rest is ridiculous.

LYRICS: "The dangers these days are getting harder and harder to detect. The enemy, it seems, keeps changing outfits. Medieval gangsta-itis, oh yes. Targeting the village youngsters, oh yes. Life used to fit like a glove. Now fitting-in feels like a toothache. And the enemy, it seems, keeps changing outfits. Medieval gangsta-itis, oh yes. Targeting the village youngsters, oh yes. Keeping cool in times like these is harder than you might suspect. The enemy, it seems, keeps changing outfits. Medieval gangsta-itis, oh yes. Targeting the village youngsters, oh yes."

The reference to "the enemy changing outfits" reminds me of a few things. One, evil and deception can take on many forms. Our emotional, spiritual, and mental wars aren't as simplistic as the US Civil War (where the only two groups participating wore a particular color to identify themselves). Two, it reminds me of an episode of "The Family Guy" where Peter, dressed like a clown, is standing in the Vietnam jungle next to US soldiers in full camo gear. He turns to the other soldiers and says, "You guys are stupid, they'll be looking for people dressed as soldiers."


Saturday, December 12, 2009


I got a late start on life today, went running around 10, and ate a large omelet around 1pm. Brandon came over around 2pm, and we dove into a keyboard idea that he brought with him (on a separate hard drive). His idea was a solid foundation that sparked lots of ideas for additional structuring, additional instruments, and vocals. We thought the song was complete after about 3 hours of additional work (and we even did a final mix), but there were lulls without vocals that made the song sound, back to work. I re-worked the vocal section, re-mixed, and finally completed this song around 8pm.

LYRICS: "Without excuse, without cause. In the middle of a war the past is gone, and we fight on. We fight on. Anticipation has its own intent, but I can't help wondering what could've been. I wouldn't be here with someone else's past, but I can't help wondering what could've been. Each land defeated is new land found. We get to choose what goes around. Anticipation has its own intent, but I can't help wondering what could've been. I wouldn't be here with someone else's past, but I can't help wondering what could've been."


Friday, December 11, 2009

Song164_Mine-Filled Hills

This song was written earlier today on the acoustic guitar, so I started the recording session with that instrument (played with a metronome set to 150bpm). The percussion sections are pretty different on each of the main sections, but they're tied together with some live cymbal swells. The bass guitar progression is simple and solid, and I tried to vary the rhythm (and octave) on each section. I also added a few electric guitars, two vocals, and a violin synth sound...bringing the track-count to 18 or 20. The lyrics are just a fictional statement made by an eager, fearless soldier.

LYRICS: "I'm shipping off to the mine-filled hills where the enemies hide. If I don't make it back when it's over, tell everybody goodbye."


Thursday, December 10, 2009


This song was constructed in a unique way. It began with a guitar (strumming) part, but it got re-arranged many times. Some parts were deleted altogether, some parts were developed further, and I seemed to constantly be adding new tracks...until it finally started taking a shape (and sound) that I liked. The structure is not standard: a long intro, then a long 'verse' (that was originally just a 4-measure 'bridge' section), then a 1-minute interlude, followed by a repeat of the 'verse.' Make sense? Well, I felt like it achieved my goal of creating a platform for imagery. I like music that takes you places when you close your eyes and give it the chance. Radio pop-songs change too quickly to be effective in that sense, but movie soundtracks usually have too many lulls to be enjoyed without the intended imagery (i.e. the movie it was made for). Lots of bands have found this middle-ground, so I'm trying to figure out what elements (and writing approach) produces that end result. Anyway, in addition to the unique layout, there's also a unique collection of instruments in this song: flutes, trumpets, trombones, violins, distorted guitars, tambourine, etc.

This is another song that I would love to have the opportunity to re-create with a full band. Ideally, I would like to choose 30 of the best songs from this project and perform them at the Myerson Symphony Hall in Dallas. We'll see if that works out.

LYRICS: "This action seems natural. This moment seems necessary."


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Song162_Young and Old

This instrumental begins a new album, Week24_Simple Days of Jousting. I'm still writing from scratch each day, but I'm also still trying to write collections of songs by taking various (and mostly strategic) approaches to songwriting. This week the formula won't involve only using specific instruments, or following the same songwriting formula each day. Instead, I'll try to tie the entire album together in other ways. I want this album to have a 'storytelling' overtone, so each day might have its own unique sound. I can't make any guarantees, but I have a few ideas that might help you hear what I can't seem to explain.

Anyway, today's song was written by choosing guitar tones and effects that fit the mood I had in mind. The main strumming (electric) guitar is a simple progression (A-Dm) that resolves in the 'chorus' section (D-A). The foundation of this song is simple and solid. The percussion is consistent, but the tambourine and shaker add lots of character. Also, I enjoyed creating the bass guitar part. Additionally, there are a few other (picking) electric guitar parts, as well as a violin. I think this song was less than 10 tracks.

By the way, SnoCap (provider of the jukebox I've been using to upload the daily songs) appears to have gone out-of-business? How could that be when I alone am making them millions of dollars in music sales? (not true) Anyway, I'll be searching (quickly) for a solution to this problem. Any suggestions?


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Song161_Remind Me

Wow, new strings can make a huge difference in how a guitar sounds, how well it plays, and how well it stays in tune. This isn't a new revelation, but I hadn't realized just how bad the old ones were until I changed them. I've been changing the strings on every guitar once/month, but I'm a few weeks behind, and keeping them in-the-open (i.e. out on stands) takes a toll.

Anyway, the new strings inspired some random strumming patterns and unique chord changes. In fact, the foundational guitar track was all recorded spontaneously in one take (which was originally about 5 minutes...edited down to 3). I highlighted certain sections and arranged them in an unpredictable way, with one of the sections only appearing once.

This song completes another album...available soon at I like that the "Meet Myselves" album doesn't have any words in it...all 7 songs are instrumentals.


Monday, December 7, 2009


This song is slightly different from the others this week. I started with similar elements (synth bass, upbeat rhythms, etc), but I wasn't getting the sounds that I wanted. I cut the tempo of the drum rhythm in half, added a bass guitar (in addition to the synth part I had already completed), and a few electric guitars. I like the mix of styles and moods. The beginning is pretty dramatic and melancholy, but it's interrupted by a triumphant, low-fidelity rock sound (only to revisit the melancholy section later). I think the construction, the sound, and the style of this song are reminiscent of my early 4-track recordings.

Tomorrow will complete another album (Week23_Meet Myselves)!

Reminder: All music recorded during January 2010 will be free to those that are on the Mailing List.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Song159_In Perfect Circles

I have been experimenting with rhythms from a new software package this week. I layered about 2-3 tracks for a foundation, and then I recorded the fuzzy (synth) bass. From there, I recorded the primary electric guitar (that plays consistently throughout the song). The remaining tracks were for the sake of variety, texture, and desired fullness (for each section). Also, these final tracks helped smooth the transitions.

I made another video last night, and it will be posted to later today (check the "Videos" page).


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Song158_Daring Surfmen

This song was written spontaneously and without any expectations. It's the product of starting with one rhythm and then layering sounds and melodies, track by track, until each part had the desired fullness. This song is fairly simple (about 8 tracks), but it has a solid combination of elements: a consistent drum rhythm, a rugged synth bass sound, spacious noises for atmosphere, etc. You might've noticed that I haven't used any guitars for a few days. All of my strings are old and unable to hold tune, so I'll be changing strings later tonight.

Also, I've added a new video to the website...

This was a first-time experiment with reverse time-lapse video. The original drawing took about 20-minutes, then I filmed the 15-minute destructive process, reversed the video, changed the speed to about 450%, and the results are what you see.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Song157_Face Off

Today's song is very simple...just a slow, steady layering of about 5 separate rhythms and sequences. This song was more about achieving a mood...not writing a hit song for the radio. It's not very formulaic or predictable, but it's over before you realize either of those things.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Song156_Meet Myselves

Once again, I layered a group of rhythms into the session before experimenting with ideas on the electric guitar. I found a few rhythms and chords that worked with the beat, so I recorded these parts before adding the synth bass. There are a variety of samples, synths, and sequences that were easy to add, and I like all of the unique sounds. The challenging part was fitting these sounds into the right places, editing them for dramatic effect, panning them creatively so your ears are entertained separately (at the same time), etc. I like the movement, energy, evolution, and repetition of this style of music.

I started working on a new video idea today, but it won't be posted until tomorrow. This is the first time I have experimented with reverse time-lapse.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Song155_Tastes Like Bomb

I layered a series of drum rhythms before working out the rest of today's song on the electric guitar. The drums set the beat and the mood, and they also dictated the style of strumming as well as the other synth sounds that I used. For the bass guitar track I opted to use a synth bass (played on the keyboard). There are two main sections to this song (both repeat once). The first one is just variations of a 'B' chord, and the second progression is F#-A-G#.

I'm going to keep this new week of music upbeat, rhythmic, electronic, etc. I didn't sing today because my throat is still healing, but there will be vocals again in a few days. This week (Week 23) will be titled, Meet Myselves.

ODD MATTHEW FACT: I have been cutting my own hair for almost 15 years. After tonight's trim I estimate a savings of $4,400 ($25/mo x 12/mo=$300/yr)($300/yr x 15/yr=$4,500)($4,500-$100 for 2 sets of clippers=$4,400).


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Song154_So Close

I like the way this instrumental ends the newest album, Week22_Personal Space Invader. It's introspective, peaceful, and hopeful. I wrote this song on the electric guitar. It's two sets of progressions, each with odd chord formations involving: C#-C (repeated), and then F-B-C (repeated). The effects on this guitar make the progression (reverb, delay, compression, etc). I found a very simple drum rhythm that I looped, and then I found a very simple bass line to enforce the foundation. I faded a string section into the background and let the solo guitar take center stage. This is a pretty simplistic song, but it's filling.

I'm already feeling much better today. I'm thankful for steroids (not the 'baseball' kind of steroids) and antibiotics.

Today is December 1st, which means that I've completed 5 months of this project...154 consecutive (original) songs! Thanks for your support so far!

The new album will be available at within a few hours.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Song153_Earl Camino

Well, it's the last day of another month, and tomorrow's song will complete another album (Week22_Personal Space Invader). I'm feeling 17% better today than I did yesterday, but I still don't feel well enough to sing. So, here's another instrumental for the collection. The foundation is a consistently strummed electric guitar. Additionally, there is: a bass guitar, tambourine, 2 drum rhythms, and a variety of chopped-up samples.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Song152_Personal Space Invader

I woke up today at 10am feeling worse than I've felt in a long time. I stumbled around the house for about 20 minutes, fed the rabbits, took some vitamins, fell asleep on the couch until 3pm, stumbled around for another 20 minutes, then slept another hour. The fever comes and goes, but I've been coughing too much to even consider singing. This actually worked out well, because I like today's instrumental. I started with a few drum rhythms, and I wrote and structured the chord progressions on an electric guitar. There are 3 sets of chord changes, and each is unique...half-steps, minors, odd chord arrangements, etc. I was a little surprised that they all three fit together (which could be argued), but it's pleasantly unpredictable. From there I added a synth bass track, and the rest was just icing. This entire song took about 4 hours to record (guitar=30min, bass=20min, drums=25min, misc synth=1.25hr, editing/mixing=1hr, format/upload/posting=30).

Time for more medicine and more sleep.


Saturday, November 28, 2009


I am still not feeling well...operating at 74%. However, I was still able to manage a focused, 8-hour recording session. I started around 10am, chose a modest BPM (100), wrote and recorded the foundation of the song on a distorted guitar (which I removed before doing the final mix), recorded the bass guitar, and then I took a short break. I had just enough time for a turkey sandwich before Sam Reidland, my cousin, came over to track the drums on today's song. (PS: Sam's daughter, Rachel, is an incredible artist, and she has agreed to design a future album cover for this project). Sam had warned me that he's out-of-practice, but it seemed to only take him 10-15 minutes before muscle-memory took over. I think he only did 5-6 takes before we both decided that we had enough to work with. The song was somewhat structured, but we edited the drums to create intensity in certain sections. Also, we went back and recorded additional cymbals on a separate track. Sam was able to stay for a while after the drums were in place, and we both shared ideas about which direction the song should go. I added an acoustic guitar and a few electric (picking) guitars, but the song still needed something else. When I 'muted' the original distorted guitar track the song opened up, and that's what gave me the idea to add the piano and violin. Additionally, there is one track of strings and one track of synth vocals (female "ahhs"). I like how this song came together (all 30 tracks), so I topped it off with some sappy lyrics that my wife will enjoy.

LYRICS: "Once, love saved the day. The rain went away. The sunshine's here to stay, for us. Oh, nobody could break us apart. I'll follow you anywhere. Cause anywhere's better than being without you. A desert, an ocean, a jungle, or a cave. Anywhere, baby. You, an angel at times with a devilish side, but you don't have to hide from me. Oh, nobody could break us apart. You're all I need, and all that I want. I'll follow you anywhere. Cause anywhere's better than being without you. A desert, an ocean, a jungle, or a cave. Anywhere, baby."


Friday, November 27, 2009

Song150_Don't Stop

I took my brother and his family to the airport early today, so I came back and got an early start on writing today's song. I had about 75% of the song completed by 11am. However, I'm getting sick...felt the fever kick-in around 1pm, slept until 7pm, woke up and wrote lyrics, and I completed this song around 10:30pm.

LYRICS: "The time has come to make your bet. Place your money where your mouth is. Don't stop the beat the rhythm's catching up to us. Shake it if you feel it, 'cause time doesn't rewind. You cut through the woods to get ahead, but the shorter path is the longer trip. This is all the time you get. Give some thought to what you do with it. Don't stop the rhythm's catching up to us. Shake it if you feel it, 'cause time doesn't rewind."

My cousin, Sam Reidland, will be joining me in the studio tomorrow. He's a drummer that played in a band during high school, but he hasn't played formally for a while. In effort to create something that he'll enjoy playing along with, I asked him for some examples of what he likes as well as songs that mimic his drumming style. I liked the songs he mentioned, so I'll do my best to create a song tomorrow that suites our needs.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Song149_Pilgrims and Indians

Today's instrumental was written in an order similar to yesterday's song. I found the BPM that I wanted, recorded a scratch drum track, and then I experimented with different (clean) electric guitar parts. I found 3-4 different progressions and rhythms that I liked...recording each one as it came to mind, and then I editing each section before determining the best way to combine them. Once I had the skeleton of this song in place I recorded the bass guitar, a few synths, a variety of guitar picking melodies, and some random percussion (shaker, tambourine,...).

My brother (Ryan), Rick, and I saw Aaron Burton play the blues in Euless last night. I met Aaron in Jr High, and he is a true artist/musician. You can learn more about his music at:

Today is Thanksgiving, and I wouldn't trade lives with anyone else.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Song148_Dark Shades

Today's song begins a new album (Personal Space Invader), and I've decided to speed things up again. I enjoyed creating songs based on unique (clean) electric guitar rhythms and chords, so I will revisit that formula for Week #22. The chords for this song are fairly standard except for the alternate formations that I used (and the order of the selected chords). (PS: I recorded today's guitars using a pick that Paul Stanley used at a recent KISS show in Tennessee. My brother caught it and gave it to me). After writing this initial guitar track I recorded some 'scratch' drums which made it easier to record the bass guitar. Brandon and Ryan helped in the studio today, so I turned things over to Brandon at this point. He was able to complete the final drum sequences as well as add a keyboard and picking guitar part. Each of these tracks enhanced what I had, and it put us closer to the daily goal.

I wrote some lyrics while Brandon was running the board, but I had thought about the broader (weekly) goals before doing this. Today's song deals with good intentions that end up doing more harm than good. One example involves a recent radio interview that I heard on NPR. Someone had discovered that the paper cups that Starbuck's prints, complete with a message about their dedication to saving the environment, actually do more harm to the environment when weighed against the money they give to that cause for each cup sold. Interesting. There are also individuals that go to strange lengths just to feel like they're saving the environment. I had always heard that we judge ourselves based on our intention and we judge others based on their actions, but I think intentions can work in your favor if no one sees the actual actions behind them (like the Starbuck's example, right?). So, go ahead and put that "save the environment" sticker on your car. Just make sure no one's around when you throw trash out your window.

LYRICS: "You're building up steam. Preparing for the dark side...the next life. All your friends now ignore you. They say you're Hitler-like...uptight. These dark shades of green... Looking down the barrel of a loaded shotgun...the earth shakes. Time for everybody to step in and 'go green' things. I'm not sure what you're looking for. Always stuck on the latest trends. (You) never know, but it could be fun to save the world...or pretend we can. But, I never know what you're fighting for. (With your) green cape and a blue bag. Collecting trash and sorting piles. Cleaning up a doomed land. Approaching top speed. The enemy is plastics, not politics. The disappearing gases deplete the life-source of the masses. I'm not sure what you're looking for. Always stuck on the latest trends. (You) never know, but it could be fun to save the world...or pretend we can. But, I never know what you're fighting for. (With your) green cape and a blue bag. Collecting trash and sorting piles. Cleaning up a doomed land."

PS: I just noticed that Sno Cap (the online music retailer) has finally caught up to my daily postings (after a few days of being MIA with no active online services and no customer service). If that ever happens again, then anyone who notices can send me an email and I'll send you a free copy of the daily song.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Song147_Light Cycles

I have family in town from Tennessee, so I spent most of my day at the Science museum with my nieces. My brother helped with today's song, and we finally got started on it around 7pm. Ryan recorded the initial guitar (washed-out reverb guitar playing D-A-E). The bass and drums were added next, followed by 6-8 other miscellaneous layers. This song came together quickly, and I like the structure, the mood, and the way each individual track works for one cause.

This song completes another album (Week21_Skywriter). It's 11pm, and I'm still working on the final design for the album artwork, but the new album will be available online before midnight at


Monday, November 23, 2009


I didn't have any specific ideas before I started today, but the foundation of this song came together quickly. In about 2 hours I wrote and recorded the drums, bass, and 2 electric guitars (in that order). The second half of the song, written after a long lunch break, came a little slower. I recorded cymbals, tambourine, and one additional guitar. I struggled with the topic/lyrics, but once I accomplished that it was fun experimenting with melodies. There are 6 vocal tracks...2 for each section (each part sung twice, then panned and effected differently).

LYRICS: "You only watch PG movies. You cry when I'm sad. You're thoughtful and messy. And you're all mine for the rest of time. Skywriter, sum it all up for her. A simple, "I love you" at 2,000 feet, etched in smoke. You only read romance novels. You dance when you're bored, and pout when you're bothered."


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Song145_Vikings at Brunch

Today was another unique day of collaborating with a few close friends and family. In the studio with me today was: Ryan, Adam, Ann, and Brandon. Adam had the initial idea, tracked the first guitar (acoustic), and the rest is history. Everyone contributed something, and the results sound like a oneunder classic. (Adam, Brandon, Ryan, and I performed in the band 'oneunder' together for 3-4 years).

LYRICS: "Listen up, there's Vikings on their way to the brunch. This is rough they're taking up the space in the room. And they steal all the muffins and punch. But it doesn't make a difference to the misers that have packed their own lunch. I swear they're driving me mad. They don't acknowledge the sneeze-guard or the elbow-room. But one can't conquer the world without a pitcher of lemonade. Huddle up, they're striking out at workers and kids. Crushing jello, smashing salad, throwing up mints. And they still won't pay at the door. But it doesn't make a difference cause the neighbors don't come around anymore."

You can learn more about Adam's current band at:

You can learn more about Adam and Ann's work with 'Get Mortified' at:


Saturday, November 21, 2009


My brother, Ryan, is in town from Tennessee, so he and Brandon helped with today's song. (We were all three once in a band together). We let Brandon kick things off by creating some drum sequences, then I recorded a bass guitar track. Ryan recorded the foundational electric guitar (picking) as well as a few of the 'key' keyboard tracks. Editing and arranging the song became a challenge of its own, but we got a global view of the song and added a few remaining tracks to facilitate the structure. It was fun challenging each other creatively as we took turns adding tracks.


Friday, November 20, 2009


Brandon helped with today's recording session (which went from 1pm-7pm). We started with a broad concept: open the song with a 1-2 minute instrumental that builds in intensity (staying on the same chord), then create a simple 2-3 chord progression that facilitates a simple melody. This isn't a standard pop song's basically two parts (and neither repeats). The lyrics were written during a 20 minute break. The idea stems from a lyric I wrote years ago, "where ocean and land both begin." Each of the things below are vast and has a counterpart that goes just as far in the opposite direction. They have unique middle-points where it gets difficult to distinguish between the two.

LYRICS: "Where history meets the present, and present meets the future. Where ocean meets the land, and reality meets illusion. Where conflict meets with peace, and facts meet up with fiction. Where bitterness meets forgiveness, and certainty becomes prediction."


Thursday, November 19, 2009


This song needs no explanations, right? It's almost midnight and it's been a long day, so I'll just touch on some of today's highlights. (By the way, I've been starting 100% from scratch each day for the past 2-3 months). I started this one around 11am, and the first track I recorded was the distorted electric guitar (with the first strum of each chord-change started out of tune and then bent into tune). The simple (but rugged) guitar solo that you hear at the first of the song was played on the bass guitar through a series of pre-sets. (I also added a foundational bass guitar track that has some standard EQ, reverb, and compression). There are 4 electric guitars being picked during the 'Verse' sections. I hope I mixed them properly...there are a lot of notes being played there and I tried to make them all audible (through the use of EQ, panning, and individual levels). The lyrics aren't about anyone in particular...just an illustration of uncertainty.

LYRICS: "Your timing is off, but not by a mile...more like a hair, though maybe a dreadlock. Your subtle style...on a limb most your life. It's time to come down, and figure things out. Not sure what it is, but you know that you want some. Not sure who you are, just know that you're someone. Not sure if you're lost, or even need to be found. Not sure what to do, just know that the time's now. All bets are off. At least for a while. Get some fresh air, and maybe a new job. Your reckless stare reeks havoc on every one's life. It's time to slow down, and figure things out."


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Song141_The Insider

I finally got started on today's song around noon. I wrote this one by experimenting on the bass guitar. I worked out 2-3 sections of progressions quickly, and then I got a drum sequence in place before continuing. The bass guitar was recorded at 120BPM, so I recorded the drums at 60BPM. I wasn't crazy about the drum sound/sequence, but I moved on anyway. The distorted guitar was easy to record, and I think I played it all the way through on the 2nd take (G-Em-C-D, etc). The two picking guitars were recorded using a pre-set that was new for me. It sounds like it's coming out of small, low-fi P.A. speakers at a public swimming pool. Brandon came by around 4pm, and I turned him loose on the drum dilemma. He deleted what I had, and he was able to find much better parts for each section. Additionally, he added the organ to the Bridge section which gave it a warmer and bigger sound. I struggled with some vocal melodies, and I concluded that no vocals were better than mediocre vocals.

Today's song will be the first song on the next album, Week21_Skywriter.

Last week's album, Week20_Crying From Laughter, is now available for sale at

I created a new video yesterday. I had an idea for a drawing, recorded the entire drawing process (about 20 minutes), and edited the video in 'time-lapse' fashion so that it fits to Song117_Color of My Soul. The quality is not great, but I wanted to illustrate the most important reason that you should support my music. Let me know what you think. You can view the video at: (it's the YouTube video in the lower right corner of the page).


Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Today's song is a lullaby that's guaranteed to help you fall asleep (*guarantee void in some countries). This 6-tracked song began with bass guitar, and then it was layered with a few (single-note) picking guitar lines, a flute, and a violin. I thought about adding vocals, but I thought an instrumental would be a good way to end this week's album.

By the way, the newest album, Week20_Crying From Laughter, will be available later today at

Thanks, Carly, for creating this week's album design!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Song139_Crying From Laughter

This song turned out a little strange, but I still like it. I wrote the initial progression on the bass guitar, and then I layered some drums, an electric guitar (a clean sound with reverb and delay), some synth pads, and dueling electric solos (featured during the interludes). I probably should've put more effort into the lyrics. They align with the theme/intent of the song, but the storyline is completely random and can't be taken seriously.

LYRICS: "From the surface everything looks fine. I got a job and a sexy wife. Out searching for the meaning of life, I got drunk, and got a DUI. It's not as bad as it was, so let's call it better. At first I was just crying, now I'm crying from laughter. Thirty gave me a mid-life malfunction. Bought a hooptie from a hip-hop auction. Bleached my suit, but nothing drastic. Friendly psychedelics like Elmo on acid. It's not as bad as it was, so let's call it better. At first I was just crying, now I'm crying from laughter. Bought a morgue, got rich and sad. Only hang with the well-dressed dead. Took work as a seasonal Santa, I make kid's so happy that they pee from excitement. It's not as bad as it was, so let's call it better. At first I was just crying, now I'm crying from laughter."

PS: You've seen chemical cold-packs, right? You break the center barrier, the chemicals mix, and it becomes an emergency ice-pack. Why don't they incorporate that idea into individual canned drinks (soda, beer, juices, etc)? The cans would have to be bigger (probably just taller), and the barrier between the chemicals would have to be broken in a way other than shaking or squeezing (maybe press a button or twist the bottom?). Do you think the ice-chest industry has secretly hindered the development of this product? Or am I just the first to recognize the practicality of putting the two together?


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Song138_Over and Over

I woke up early and had a bass line in my head, so that was the first track recorded in today's song. The main electric picking part came next, which made it easy to add space using a few synth pads and a solo violin. There is one straight-forward drum sequence accompanied by live mallet hits on the floor tom and live cymbal swells (recorded in separate takes, each part stereo-mic'ed). The lyrics/vocals are pretty simple (each part was recorded in 1-2 takes), but it's a descent message about: starting over, trying again (where you've failed before), and trying to resist the destructive side of our human nature that perpetuates the need to start over and try again.

LYRICS: "Over and over, time and again. It's not too late, so let's start over again. Over and over and over. Time never stops, and time never ends."


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Song137_Common Strides

I started this song with an electric guitar and a pre-set that I like (and have used before). It's a very reverbed, 'washy' sound that reminds me of the band Slowdive. I chose some chords to work with (a 'C' without the 1st finger...the 'open' sound fits well with the mood of this particular pre-set). Even though the sound was nice, I wanted to get away from the tone of a standard 'C' I capot'ed on the 4th fret. The foundational electric guitar track was played to a 'click'/metronome (100BMP), and then I added synth bass. There are 2 additional picking guitar parts that each occupy one side of the stereo-field. I had a few lyrics, and I (as usual) was prepared to layer and layer and layer more sound. However, I liked what I had after only recording these 4 tracks, and I didn't want to pollute the sound with anything else. The melody that I had picked out (for vocals) was catchy, but vocals would've distracted from what I ultimately like about this song which is that (in it's instrumental form) this song could take your thoughts anywhere. For me, today's title relates to the shared experiences we have with other humans. Often what brings relationships closer together are things that are difficult, undesired, and maybe even unbearable at the time. I suspect many soldiers returning from war can verify this. I'm sure they have a deep, unexplainable connection with those they served side-by-side with. Common strides can be bitter-sweet, but it's better than the alternative.


Friday, November 13, 2009


I structured some drum sequences and the bass guitar for today's song, and then I took a lunch break. I knew that Brandon (Steach) was coming over today, so I wanted to keep the possibilities open. We listened to the song in its rough form a few times and then brainstormed ideas. This proved to be pretty productive, and we ended up experimenting with some new sounds and editing techniques. My favorite section is the intro...the 3 electric guitars that are essentially one part played on 3 separate tracks (and panned for effect). The lyrical premise for this song is fun, sarcastic, and a little dark. I met a guy once that had trouble traveling without advanced knowledge of when/where a local A.A. meeting would be held. He had been sober for years, but it appeared that he had traded one addiction for another. I guess that's a healthy trade, but it's still ironic. The lyrics were written in 10-15 minutes, and were mostly made up to fill space. Some of them are clever, but there's not a deep hidden message...just words about a fictional person and circumstance.

LYRICS: "Psychologists struggle for words to explain you, but psychiatry fixed you. Or, at least (it) made an attempt to. You were a mental mess, now you're boring but stable. You're not afraid of germs anymore. But you struggle to wake before the day ends, and (you) study alternate words for commonly stuttered phrases. I won't always see well so stand there and hold still. You might not always be beautiful, but you'll still be a handful."


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Song135_On The Double

Today's song is about a convenience-driven society...where "fast isn't fast enough." I saw something early this morning that summed up this thought. A woman in a minivan (immediately after ordering her microwaved breakfast from McDonald's) accelerated around the drive-thru path at race-pace (with tires squeeling)...apparently in an effort to make the drive-thru experience even quicker. I tried to summarize this thought years ago with a cartoon drawing of a man getting a haircut at a drive-thru barber.

LYRICS: "Sometimes fast isn't fast enough. Sometimes time can't keep up. Don't speed through the corners when placing drive-thru orders for double-adjective burgers and five-minute divorces. You can buy convenience online, and have it shipped 'Overnight.' Nobody likes to wait in the USA."

Some of the above lyrics didn't make it into the song due to space/timing issues. "Double-adjective" food has always amused me...products like: Biggie Double, Tasty McCheesy, Super Deluxe, etc. When food marketers do that kind of thing it's both hilarious and insulting. I guess they're counting on the photo to describe what you'll actually be eating. Anyway, back to 'convenience.' I have seen actual signs for quick "faultless divorce" filings...none as quick as 5-minutes, but I'm sure someone is working on that.

I started the music idea with a synth keyboard. I had a much different vision for the overall sound of today's song, but the layering process took me somewhere different. I worked on it for 5 hours straight, so I'll have to come back and listen later before I form my own opinions, but it seems to have worked.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Song134_Eleven Eleven

This recording session was a crazy mess of 5-6 different (yet developed) ideas that I was finally able to edit into an one (still somewhat unpredictable) 3-minute set of exciting instrumental melancholy. There's a section in the center that only appears once, but it's book-ended by the same chord progression (though the first is layered much different than the ending). I like the final product, but I'm selfish and usually try to write music that I enjoy. This song fit my mood today. November 11th (i.e. Eleven Eleven) is my mom's birthday, and she's been gone for just over a year. It's nice that the post offices stayed closed today in remembrance.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Today's idea came from playing electric guitar through a 'washy' pre-set in GR3 (i.e. heavy with reverb, delay, etc). I was prepared to make this song an instrumental, but it was too easy to fit melodies and harmonies to I wrote a few lyrics during lunch. The general theme is about enjoying each phase of life, approaching each moment knowing there are no 're-dos' (to minimize regret), and not being too anxious for the next phase. This isn't the first time I've used this theme, but it's worthy of repeating.

LYRICS: "I wish I could rewind, (and) take us back in time. Take your time. Don't rush life. You can't rewind. There's just one try."

This song completes another album (Week19_Everything's Extra). Carly designed the album cover this week, and I should have it online within the hour.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Song132_Work Naps

Yes, we live in advanced times. Technology is changing daily, and innovations are simultaneously adding convenience and creating new problems. Not too many years ago airplanes were still a dream, but now we have un-manned aircrafts that can fly in (near) silence and drop large bombs with video cameras. Commercial airplanes are getting more complex too. Most cockpits now are "glass-paneled" (using digital computer gauges and GPS mapping instead of traditional analog instruments), and they can practically fly themselves. However, in spite of all the technological advancements it still doesn't seem appropriate for pilots to sleep during flights. If you're not familiar with this story, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) recently released statements about commercial airline pilots napping during flights. They are in favor of this practice, and they say that "pilots who are more rested are more alert." Okay, so the way to achieve alertness is to sleep during lulls at work? What about the more obvious question, "Why are the pilots so tired that they can't stay awake during work?" The next question would be, "What can we do to reduce their fatigue before coming to work?" Nope. The FAA's answer: approved work-naps. I bet some surgeons work long shifts too, but I wouldn't feel comfortable seeing my surgeon napping in the next room as the anaesthesiologist put me under. Likewise, I think I'd feel more comfortable if my pilot stayed awake during a paid flight...even if it's to monitor the automated systems.

I structured this song to mirror the events of a typical flight. The song starts with some random noises (an engine igniting?), and it moves quickly with anticipation. The plane leaves the ground about 40 seconds into the songs (just after I say "rotate")...when the clean electric guitar and "Ahh" vocals enter. The artificial snoring sound leads the song into the "autopilot" section where approved naps usually occur. Then, as the pilot wakes he gives a summary of the situation to the passengers...then the music kicks back in. The energy picks up even more just after I say, "Landing gear down." (maybe I should've said "autopilot off") Near the end I give the altitude countdown. The sudden silence is symbolic of a successful touchdown (even though that's usually the loudest part of a flight).

LYRICS: "(Cockpit) Roger, engines ignited. (Tower) Flight 335 you are currently 5th in line for take-off on runway E65 south. Taxi to E65. Over. (Cockpit) Ten-four, Tower. (Tower) Flight 335 you are clear for take-off. (Cockpit) Roger, Flight 335 leaving. Thanks for your hospitality, Memphis. Throttles up. Rotate."

LYRICS: "Good morning, uhm, I mean good name is Captain Otto. We've been flying...uhm, really high for a while now, and the co-pilot says nothing unusual happened while I was sleeping...uhm, I mean concentrating. Anyway, there's weather outside, and we're currently over land and above the clouds. More details from the cockpit coming soon."

LYRICS: "We've begun our initial decent into Denver, and we should be arriving early. Crew, prepare the cabin for landing. Flaps. Landing gear down. 100. 50. 30. 10."


Sunday, November 8, 2009


I wrote this song earlier today on the electric guitar. It's not a standard chord progression, but I like it (C-E-F-C, etc). Once I got the two additional electric guitars in place I decided to cut the distorted guitar from the 'Verse' section, which made the 'Chorus' more powerful. Additionally, I added a second distorted guitar to the 'Chorus' to enhance the intensity as well as add to the melody (which closely mimics the vocal line). The 'Bridge' section (near the center) is just a slight variation of the other chord progressions, but the 2 fuzz-synths separate it from the other parts nicely.

I have always been impressed with David Blaine (magician, street performer, endurance artist, etc). I watched some YouTube videos of his last night that I had never seen before, so I decided to base this song on him. His magic skills are convincing, his approach (and delivery) is unique, his desire to challenge himself is admirable, and his ability to persevere odd circumstances is amazing. He's very confident, but never arrogant. When he performs in the streets it's as rewarding to see the crowd's response as it is to see the tricks he performs. And, when people realize who it is they stop what they're doing and follow him. I'm partial to his endurance performances...being buried alive for a week, hanging upside down for 60 hours, capturing the world record for holding his breath 17 minutes 4.4 seconds, and more.

LYRICS: "All your life a hero to heroes. The crowds in your wake want you to make it. Passionately elusive and evasive. You endure your fate, an homage to illusion. Take any card and show it to your neighbor. Put it back into the deck, then check your back pocket. No promises made or secrets to give away. You endure your fate, an homage to illusion. For the first time ever before: buried alive, then hung upside down. There's a good chance he won't come down. He can levitate and knows no bounds."


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Song130_Moatless Castles

Today's song/instrumental was pieced together in a unique way. I started with 2-3 drum sequences that I liked, and then I recorded a few bass guitar progressions. Then, I recorded two electric guitars, but I didn't like the flow of the song. I finally decided that it was the chord progression that was holding things back, so I deleted the guitars and re-recorded the bass track. I don't like moving backwards like that, but taking the time to ensure a good foundation always makes the final tracks easier (and more worthwhile) to record. I didn't have any good lyric or melody ideas for this song, so I focused on introducing a new instrument or sound into each repeated section (to keep it interesting).

I like the title "Moatless Castles." Viewed from an "Everything's Extra" standpoint, it makes me think of a castle salesman politely explaining to his customer that moats are not a standard feature, but rather an "optional add-on." It also stands for the physical and mental barriers that we use daily for personal protection. Education, firearms, medication, martial arts, reading, pepper-spray, forgiveness, bitterness, etc...just a few examples of modern-day moats.


Friday, November 6, 2009


I struggled with this song. The drums and bass were created quickly, which gave the song a good foundation. I heard some vocal melodies, but in the end I just couldn't find the right words. I had hoped to build the remaining instruments around the vocals, but after hours of trying to get it right I decided to move on. Ironically, the remaining instruments were created fairly quickly. The two guitar parts (one clean and one distorted) were easy to place, and I always find melodies easy to create with the fuzz/synth sound. I wasn't feeling very inspired today, but I still like how this instrumental turned out.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Song128_Everything's Extra

I didn't have any specific ideas when I sat down to record today. I decided to focus on a guitar track first, but instead of building the idea around a chord progression I took a different route. I found a guitar effect that I liked and created a part that fit that sound (i.e. the picking guitar that plays throughout the song). I didn't, at the time, concentrate on the chords that would accompany the 3 different picking parts. When I went back to add additional guitars (bass, fast strumming electric, distorted electric, etc) I found that I really liked the chord progressions...especially how well (in a unique way) that they related to each other. These are not chords that I would've normally paired together, but it works in this song. (Verse=B-A, Transition=G-Am, and Chorus=D-C).

It's only 11:30am, which is nice. Carly has the day off, and I'm caught up on all of my work, so maybe it'll feel like a day off if I can complete this song soon. It's 90% ready, but I'm still considering adding vocals. I'll eat lunch, then take another listen. Either way, Song128_Everything's Extra, will be available soon at


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Song127_Odd's The Standard

Today's song is the first song on the next album, Everything's Extra (Week #19). The album title was something that I saw on a menu once, and I thought it was funny for a few reasons. There was a small burrito shop in Erwin, TN (might still be there), and a group of us would eat there after a long day on the river. (I was a whitewater rafting guide on the Nolichucky River...big/fast water, long days, fun and challenging). The burritos were great, but a "burrito" was defined as beans on a tortilla. Period. "Everything's Extra." Meat was $1, lettuce was $.25, cheese was $.45, etc. By the time I was done ordering it wasn't a cheap burrito anymore, but "everything's extra" applies to many things in life.

This instrumental, Song127_Odd's The Standard, was written on the keyboard. I layered 4-5 tracks of keys before considering vocals. I started the day with a handful of random thoughts that I tried to corral (lyrically) into one song. It started by thinking about the struggle to create accurate (and non-offensive) terminologies. Example: I grew up hearing the term "Illegal Alien" when someone was referring to an immigrant that was here against US law. That term has changed a few times in the past few years. It was first changed to "Illegal Immigrant," but it finally became "Undocumented Immigrant." This isn't an opinion...just an observation that I find amusing. Also, someone pointed out to me that the term "African-American" doesn't always identify skin color. Ernie Els, the white-skinned PGA golfer that was born in Africa and has US citizenship, is an "African-American." Desmond Tutu, the black-skinned leader from Africa, is "African"...not "African-American." Interesting. At the root level, the above examples are irrelevant (and grossly generalized) titles, but again...amusing observations.

The other side of inspiration for "Odd's The Standard" deals with the challenges of having an original thought in a world of billions of other creative humans. I simplified all of these thoughts into the few phrases of which I have heard many places (ironic, huh?).

LYRICS: "When odd comes standard it makes 'different' 'normal.' You're unique, girl. Like everybody else."

Originally, this song had 4 sets of sequenced percussion loops. They were all removed just before the final mix, which really changed the overall mood and sound of this song. And, not having any other drums really emphasized the cymbal swells that I added last.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I tried a few different guitar ideas early today, but I had trouble hearing beyond those parts...wasn't happy with the creative possibilities, so I started from another direction. I found the fuzzy synth sound within a software program that I haven't used much, created the simple (but moving) melody line that appears at the beginning of the song, and I continued from there. There isn't another bass sound in this song...I got what I needed from this synth part. The 2 electric strumming guitars (clean and distorted) are foundational. The 2 solo guitars stand out nicely, and I liked how the two work together (even though the parts are simple). (I especially like how the guitars sound in the "Bridge" section).

This song completes the 7-song album for Week #18. EVEN STEVEN will be available within a few hours. I did an original drawing for this weeks cover, but I'm still making some final adjustments. I wanted something that fit the title, and I think I got it!


Monday, November 2, 2009

Song125_All My Days

This song was written on the electric guitar. I found 2-3 chord progressions that I liked, and then I gave each one a slightly different strumming rhythm. This song has a nice balance of guitars and synths...with one steady drum beat holding throughout.

LYRICS: "In the nick of time, through the needle's eye, we fly. Can't change your mind. The bush was set on fire, and it'll burn all night. Here comes the light. And if this storyline holds true. I'll live all my days with you."


Concerts I've Attended

In my journal a few days ago I mentioned that I've been to quite a few concerts. I've kept a list of the noteworthy bands that I've seen, and I just came across it today. For the sake of documentation I thought I'd go ahead and list them below (in no particular order)

CONCERTS: Guided By Voices (Trees/Dallas,TX), Ween (Gypsy Tea Room/Dallas,TX), Bedhead (many times), Tripping Daisy (many times), Home (The Argo/Denton,TX), Widespread Panic (Red Rocks/Colorado), Big Head Todd & The Monsters (some hotel ballroom in Jackson,WY), House of Pain (Deep Ellum Live/Dallas,TX), Acetone, Sixteen Deluxe, Blues Traveler (Deep Ellum Live/Dallas,TX), The Cure (Starplex Ampitheater/Dallas,TX), Orgin, Ice-T, Charlatans U.K., Jane's Addiction (at the first Lallapolooza in Dallas,TX and at Fair Park years later with Flea), Butthole Surfers, Pearl Jam (Starplex Amphitheater/Dallas,TX), Red Hot Chile Peppers, Fishbone, Jimmy Buffett, The Beach Boys, Tracy Chapman (Farm Aid/Texas Stadium), Living Colour, Indigo Girls (Red Rocks Amphitheater/Morrison,CO), Sun 60 (in Austin with Tripping Daisy), Grandaddy (Gypsy Tea Room/Dallas,TX), Death Cab for Cutie (Ridglea Theater/Fort Worth,TX), KC & The Sunshine Band (I photographed them before a Mavericks basketball game...they performed after the game), BTO, Phish (Red Rocks/Morrison,CO), Johnny Cash (Majestic Theater/Dallas, TX), Willie Nelson (many times...Billy Bob's Honkeytonk, Wyoming state rodeo, etc), Spiritualized (Showbox/Seattle,WA), The Samples (Trees, House of Blues, etc), Pavement (Trees/Dallas,TX), The Spin, The Flaming Lips, Sebadoh (Gypsy Tea Room/Dallas,TX), Built To Spill (Key Arena/Seattle,WA and other places), Crosby/Stills/Nash (Starplex/Dallas,TX), Billy Joel and Elton John (Starplex/Dallas,TX), The Grateful Dead (Las Vegas and Denver), Traffic (opened for The Dead in Vegas), Sting, Black Crowes (Bronco Bowl and The Bomb Factory in Dallas,TX), Fugazi (Bomb Factory/Dallas,TX), Sugarcubes (opened for U2 in Dallas), Public Enemy, The Pixies, The Sundays (Arcadia and Deep Ellum Live/Dallas,TX), U2 (I worked front-row security at the Pop Mart tour at Cotton Bowl/Dallas,TX), Luna (opened for the Sundays for first Texas appearance...Deep Ellum Live/Dallas,TX), Radiohead (at Fair Park Music Hall in Dallas...Spiritualized opened for them), Neil Young (Farm Aid/Texas Stadium), Lynard Skynard (1993 Farm Aid), John Melloncamp, Paul Simon, Yo La Tengo (Trees/Dallas,TX), Smashing Pumpkins (Texas Stadium), Stereolab (The Showbox/Seattle,WA and Nokia Theater in Grand Prairie,TX), Low (Gypsy Tea Room/Dallas,TX and Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle,WA), Souxie & The Banshees, G Love & Special Sauce, Toad The Wet Sprocket (Deep Ellum Live/Dallas,TX), Bob Dylan (Key Arena/Seattle,WA), Mercury Rev (Roseland Theater/Portland,OR), Rage Against The Machine (Deep Ellum Live/Dallas,TX), Amy Grant (Six Flags/Texas), Steven Curtis Chapman (Footloose/Euless,TX), Michael W. Smith (Reunion Arena/Dallas,TX), Van Halen (free outdoor show in West End Marketplace...downtown Dallas), The Moody Blues, Jars of Clay (Texas Stadium...before Billy Graham spoke), Delirious (Gateway/Southlake,TX), D.C. Talk (Texas Stadium), Cake, Psychedelic Furrs (Gypsy Tea Room/Dallas,TX), Nicole Nordeman (Gateway/Southlake,TX), My Bloody Valentine (Palladium Ballroom/Dallas,TX)...and some others probably.